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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Bud-Buttons


LAZARUS. It's not true that InstaPunk tortured or killed me for what I said. He's The Boss and regardless of what anyone says, he doesn't care what anyone thinks about the posters at InstaPunk. He was just trying to provide cover for me. But I don't need cover. I'm not sorry about what I said. I'm only sorry that all the bud-buttons thought they had the right to call me a racist for speaking the truth.

Now I know you're all wondering what a bud-button is. That's the complicated question. And there's no definitive answer. It's mostly a matter of the things no bud-button has ever done. For example, bud-buttons aren't people who have ever seen a half-mile long line of tomato trucks in August waiting for the Heinz, Hunts, Ritter, and Campbell plants to accept the town-wide pungency of their cargo. They don't know the way that smell slows you down to a stupor so that when you turn down a side street and see that one little gingerbread house on the corner with the clipped lawn and the white glider and the trained red roses you just gasp and say to yourself, "This is why I'm so privileged to be alive." It doesn't matter that you never get to meet the white-haired black man who mows that patch with the mechanical mower, or his his plump wife with the pitcher of iced tea on the porch, although you nod at them as you round the corner, because the whole world smells of tomatoes and they have chosen roses.

Bud-buttons never bridle when they see the stereotyped black chess player in the movies. That's because they never met Duane, who had 1500 SATs and really did know how to play chess. But it never bought him any peace. He was always alone. I felt keenly that he wanted me to play, but I was insensitive, not to Duane but to chess, and it was only later that I realized he neeeded that other language -- of castles and knights and bishops -- to build the bridge I thought could be built with mere common experience. I was wrong. Ever since, I hate the black chess player in the movies. We're supposed to think he's competing. He's not. He's looking for friends who aren't there.

I can't stand bud-buttons. They believe that fat black women are supernally maternal, wise, and almost divine in their ability to guide children, read character, and survive the vicissitudes of fortune. I could run screaming down the streets of the upper east side and up the sidewalks of Beacon Hill demanding an explanation, but no one would come out on the stoop to explain to me what happened to Emma. Of course, we didn't live in Manhattan or Boston. We lived in a place where domestic servants aren't employees but part of the family. And that's what did in Emma. She babysat three or four families in the country, who expressed their gratitude with gifts and goods, which is probably why a fat black woman friend of hers shot her, point blank, in the stomach, with a shotgun. It was the first time I ever prayed for another human life. When I heard. "Save Emma, God. Please save Emma." And he did. When they wheeled Emma into the emergency room, one of the surgeons recognized her, yanked her to the head of the line, and performed the operation that saved her life himself. For no charge.

Yeah, he was a racist, too. We are all, have always been, will always be racists. Where we live, we know that race is a principal determinant of what your life experience will be. You bud-buttons want to fight about it?

Of course you do. But you're disadvantaged. Underprivileged. You met your first black people in high school or college. Or was there a black kid you bonded with so specially in middle school? Sure there was. But they weren't in your lives from the very very beginning. You didn't learn from them Crazy Eights, how to iron a shirt or a sheet, driving their car in the driveway when you were you only nine, or how to cook your own little meal when you were hungry. How could you? You were only bud-buttons.

You could claim, I suppose, that I was surprised when the old black men showed up to teach me about the heroin jazz. But that would make you a bud-button. Which you just couldn't be, could you? Me, I'd been aching to ask them. What is this music? Why is it so haunting?

The answer was more than haunting. They said, "The music is about life. It's about pain, and loss, and just going on regardless." And I asked, "Where's the joy? The ecstasy of Emma for all the kids she raised who love her to death? The triumph of Duane for all the chess games he won? The fulfillment of Miles Davis for the jazz he made that no one before him ever foresaw?"

The wise old black men told me that such pleasures were only ephemera. That their lot in life was misery, deep and inconsolable. I told them I was a Celt, and they had only just begun to learn about pain.

Then we went out drinking together and had a fine old time.

But if you asked them, I'm sure they'd confirm that I'm nothing but a nasty old racist. Blood is thicker than whiskey. By one whole hell of a lot.

You can tell me that if you're not a bud-button. But what are you?

Oh?

Bud-button. So sorry. Well, listen to this from my private stock...

UPDATE. Instaputz fans! Note that your father blog doesn't allow what we allow here -- open comment. Also note that your father blog is a pussy on the order of Maureen Dowd, who misquotes and [emends] as if it's her religion. Your little pansy pop does the same thing. But now that you're here, have fun, liberal dick-things... Just a small note for you non-Celts: we're not at all insecure about penis size. Not a factor. Find something else to torment us with.







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